Tourism is highly regulated and centrally planned in China, and China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) deputy director Li Shihong called the plan "a must" for healthy development of the sector.
Although cruising in China is still relatively modest in scale compared with activity in the U.S. and Europe, global cruise companies believe it will develop into the world's largest market. Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., Norwegian Cruise Holdings and MSC Cruises all have ships sailing from Chinese ports, with plans to expand their presence.
Cruise growth in China has been somewhat hampered by the lack of variety in ports of call. Increasing the number of ports, and activities within existing ports, has become a priority for the government and cruise lines.
A detailed plan, developed by the quasi-government China Cruise and Yacht Industry Association (CCYIA), will be unveiled next month in Sanya at CCS12, its annual China Cruise Shipping Conference International & Cruise Expo.
The establishment of cruise tourism cities is the latest step in the government's efforts to promote cruising. CNTA first recognized cruising as an official travel industry activity in 2008, issued port service standards in 2011 and established six "cruise tourism development pilot areas" in 2014.
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